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Old 06-01-2008, 07:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Cheap Secondary Computer

After perusing around, I think this forum was the best fit for me to ask questions about building a new computer.

My current laptop that I use is a 5 year old Dell Latitude D800 laptop (1.66GHz Pentium M with 512MB of RAM and 40GB hard drive). I'm looking to build a new computer with its main use for school work and leisure; no intense gaming, no intense data crunching, but something I can play with and will last me a while. I have used Newegg.com as the source of the parts:

Case: Rosewill R604-P BK 120mm Fan ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - ~$50
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - ~$90
Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE 100165L Radeon X1650PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail - ~$45
Firewire Card: Rosewill 3+1 USB 2.0/ 2+1 1394a VIA PCI Add On Card Model RC-110-LX Replacement For RC-110 - Retail - ~$15
Power Supply: XCLIO GOODPOWER 500W 500W ATX Power Supply - Retail - ~$55
CPU: Intel Pentium E2220 Allendale 2.4GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2220 - Retail - ~$90
Memory: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK - Retail - ~$50
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - ~$70
CD Drive: LITE-ON 52X CD Burner Black ATAPI/E-IDE Model DH-52R2P-08 - Retail - ~$18
Keyboard/Mouse: inland 70127 Black PS/2 Wired Standard U-Touch Multi-media Keyboard & Mouse Mouse Included - Retail - ~$13
Monitors: 2x Acer AL1716 Fbd Black 17" 5ms LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 800:1 - Retail - ~2 x $160 = $320
Total Price: ~$816

Did I go too cheap on some of the parts? I'd like the computer to last me somewhere along the lines of 2 years or so, and I'm not too finicky (I still use my laptop as my primary computer).

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the processor has 1MB of L2 cache - the next model up that I would consider adding is:
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 Allendale 2.4GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail - ~$120
New total price: ~$846
Is it necessary/desirable to pay $30 more for the Core 2 Duo and for the 2MB L2 Cache (as opposed to 1MB)?
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Old 06-01-2008, 10:06 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

Seems like a pretty good system for a cheap secondary PC. Hopefully someone can advise you on what are the best parts or component options to choose from. Are you getting 2 x 17" LCD monitors? Do you need a dual display? That adds most of the cost on. Take that off and you can have a cheap upgrade tower for $500. Why wouldn't you get a DVD burner dual layer for $40, which is only double the price of a pretty much redundant CD-R drive and you can do so much more with it like DVD movies, DVD games, backup etc?
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Old 06-01-2008, 10:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

I want the dual monitors for two reasons - primarily, the novelty of having a dual monitor is appealing. But more seriously, school work such as research for papers and my thesis takes up significant real estate. The purpose was to get the tower to be about $500 and then the monitors would tack on another ~$350.

I didn't look into DVD players, but your point is valid, even to the point that I may want to back up large amounts of data (pictures or music).

There are a few things I'm concerned about, and am not sure if I should be:
1. Is the PSU enough to support the parts?
2. Is the graphics card reputable (does it render decent graphics in the case I play the casual game - I have a game called Age of Empires)?
3. Is it worth the $30 to get the Core 2 Duo 2MB L2 cache over the Pentium 1MB L2 Cache?
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Old 06-01-2008, 10:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

IF you're not gaming I wouldn't worry much about the better processer. I would recommend a dx10 graphics card over the x1650. You can get an Nvidia 8400 or ATI HD2400 or 3450 card for around the same price and you'd get better over all performance, I think. Plus dx10 support, which isn't bad, and they're generally better for playing back video/divx.
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Old 06-01-2008, 11:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

My preliminary research on newegg revealed the following:
1. The 8400 only comes with one DVI port.
2. I could only find VisionTek's HD 2400PRO that had two DVI ports, but it cost much more.
3. Sapphire's 3450 was the only 2-DVI output card, and it got bad reviews from Newegg's community.

If DirectX 10.0 is an important feature, then maybe this is the card I should get:
SAPPHIRE 100207L Radeon HD 2600PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail - ~$58 (+$13)

But what about the CPU - do I need the extra L2 cache? I noticed b1gapl's recommended PC components (found here) lists the E2220 as a nice low-end (and even mid-range) CPU, but skips straight to the E4700 instead of the E4600, and I don't want to jump that much in price if it's not necessary.

On a side note, I must say I'm fairly impressed with this community already. I didn't think I would hear back from anyone until at minimum tomorrow.
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

First, instead of 2 17's, I'd just go for a big 24inch

2nd, NO IDE optical please~

3rd, Get 80 PLUS Certified PSU
ie Antec earthwatts EA430 430W ATX12V v2.0 Power Supply 100 - 240 V UL, CUL, FCC, TUV, CE, CB, C-tick, CCC
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Old 06-02-2008, 02:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

Okay I totally forgot about the dual monitor thing you were going for. yeah that 2600 card is a good one, thumbs up. Even if you weren't doing dual monitors that'd be a much more powerful card--better future proofing if nothing else--and the cost increase was very low.

I would also recommend a big 24" monitor over two measly 17" ones. Much better picture quality and more screen real estate since you've got those nice high resolutions.
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Old 06-02-2008, 12:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

With all the advice, this is what I have come up with:

Base Computer:
Case: Rosewill R604-P BK 120mm Fan ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - ~$50
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - ~$90
Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE 100207L Radeon HD 2600PRO 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail - ~$58
Firewire Card: Rosewill 3+1 USB 2.0/ 2+1 1394a VIA PCI Add On Card Model RC-110-LX Replacement For RC-110 - Retail - ~$15
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12 II SS-500GB ATX12V / EPS12V 500W Power Supply - Retail - ~$86
CPU: Intel Pentium E2220 Allendale 2.4GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2220 - Retail - ~$90 or Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 Allendale 2.4GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail - ~$120 [add $30]
Memory: G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK - Retail - ~$50
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - ~$70
CD/DVD Drive: Pioneer 20X DVDR DVD Burner Black IDE Model DVR-115DBK - OEM - ~$30
Base computer price: ~$539 [or ~$569]

Peripherals:
Keyboard/Mouse: inland 70127 Black PS/2 Wired Standard U-Touch Multi-media Keyboard & Mouse Mouse Included - Retail - ~$13
Monitors: 2x Acer AL1716 Fbd Black 17" 5ms LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 800:1 - Retail - ~2 x $160 = $320
[Total real estate of 2 x 17" = 289 sq. in. ~ 1 x 24"]
or 1x Acer P243WAid Black-Silver 24" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor with HDCP Support 400 cd/m2 3000:1 ACM - Retail - ~ $390
Peripheral price: ~$333 [or ~$403]

Total price: as low as ~$872 [as high as ~$972]

Now, I have a few questions:
1. Is the energy efficiency worth spending the extra (in my case) $31? I feel that I want at least 500 watts for extensibility, and that's the cheapest one with the requirements. Besides, not to be picky, but the Antec one was silver and the case is black.
2. Is it worth the extra (in my case) $30 to get the Core 2 Duo instead of the Pentium and the extra 1MB of L2 Cache?
3. Unless my research skills are poor, it seems that the two 17" monitors are slightly cheaper than the one 24" monitor; but even if the prices were comparable, what benefits would one monitor have over two? I don't know if it's possible, but I am thinking a benefit of having two over one is, for example, running a powerpoint presentation and enabling the feature that allows one screen to show the presentation while the second screen shows your notes (or maybe it's possible to run a full screen game such as World of Warcraft and have the forums open on the other screen?).
4. I guess I don't know much about hard drives, but in regards to the IDE optical, isn't the hard drive selected SATA 3.0 and not IDE, or are they not mutually exclusive concepts?

Again, the assistance here has been wonderful. I think I need to start returning the favor!
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:05 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

1. Yes. Always go with a good PSU. A cheap one will let you down and usually take other components with it when it blows.

2. Again, yes. Think moped vs Ninja, Pinto vs Corvette.

3. Cheaper, but the resolutions are not as good. You could always add another big screen later, and you won't have lost any money. Besides, the widescreen will be great when you decide to watch a movie or two. If you are dead set on a second monitor, go with a less expensive widescreen and grab a 17" as a secondary. And, yes, you can game/app and have something else opn on another screen... I used to have TeamSpeak open on a my second screen when I played BF2.

4. Fat.clown said "opticals" not hard drive. That would be your DVD/CD drive. The SATA versions are basically the same cost, but are better for air circulation because the cable is smaller.
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Old 06-02-2008, 01:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Cheap Secondary Computer

Ah! I learn something every day. Replacing the IDE version with the Pioneer 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model DVR-215DBK - OEM for an extra $1 works.

Going expensive on it all raises the tower price to $570. Ideally I would have liked to keep this around or under $500, but if I want it to last, it looks like I may have to invest a little more?

And I think I'm convinced for one monitor, but I'll keep the graphics card and go for a 22" Acer instead (~$230 instead of $390 for the extra 2" diagonal).

That makes the total cost ~$800. Not bad I guess for a computer that should last me a few years or so. Thanks guys!
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